August 23, 2019

Archives for June 10, 2015

Tenth Circuit: Nothing in Rivers and Harbors Act Allows Personal Action Against Boat Owner

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in United States v. Jantran, Inc. on Thursday, April 9, 2015.

The Miss Dixie is a cargo ship owned by Jantran, Inc. that operates on the Verdigris River in Oklahoma. While carrying cargo, the Miss Dixie lost power and struck and damaged a lock owned by the Army Corps of Engineers. The United States commenced an in personam action against Jantran under § 408 of the Rivers and Harbors Act to recover the costs of the repair. The district court dismissed the Corps’ suit, finding § 408 does not allow in personam damages against a boat owner but rather only allows in rem actions against the vessel that caused the damage.

The Corps appealed, arguing that without an in personam right of action, the United States cannot be fully compensated for its losses, and as a matter of consistency § 408 must therefore contain an implied right to in personam relief. The Tenth Circuit analyzed maritime law, which provides that any party injured by a maritime vessel obtains an automatic lien on the vessel at the time of the accident. The party can then bring an in rem action and foreclose its lien if successful. This method of compensation developed because usually ships traveled far from home, a ship’s captain may be unable to financially compensate the injured party, and the responsible ship owner may be a foreign party unwilling to honor the judgment.

The Tenth Circuit also evaluated the Supreme Court opinion in Wyandotte Transportation Co. v. United States, finding that although Wyandotte allowed in personam actions against a boat owner for damages, the decision construed § 409. However, Wyandotte created a circuit split about whether § 408 also allows in personam actions. The Tenth Circuit agreed with the Sixth Circuit that § 408 does not allow in personam actions.

The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order dismissing the action because nothing in the Rivers and Harbors Act indicates a congressional intent to allow a cause of action against a boat owner.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Retroactive Tax Assessment Based on Underreporting of Value Affirmed

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Kinder Morgan CO2 Company, L.P. v. Montezuma County Board of Commissioners on Thursday, June 4, 2015.

Property Tax Assessment—Oil and Gas—Retroactive Application—Transportation Deduction.

In April 2008, Kinder Morgan CO2 Company submitted six operator statements, one for each tax district, detailing its production in Montezuma County for 2007. The operator statements for 2007 showed a decrease in valuation of carbon dioxide from the previous tax year. A Montezuma County assessor audited the statements and determined that Kinder Morgan had underreported the selling price of oil and gas produced, because it had applied the incorrect method of calculating the transportation deduction. The audit resulted in an increased assessment. Kinder Morgan thereafter appealed the order issued by the Board of Assessment Appeals (BAA) upholding the Montezuma County assessor’s collection of additional oil and gas leasehold taxes for the 2007 tax year.

On appeal, Kinder Morgan contended that the BAA erred in concluding that the Assessor’s retroactive increase in value was authorized under the property tax code. HB 90-1018 amended CRS § 39-10-107(1) to permit retroactive assessment of property taxes on the value of oil and gas leaseholds omitted due to underreporting of the selling price of oil and gas or the quantity sold therefrom. Therefore, the BAA’s ruling was affirmed as to the retroactive assessment.

Kinder Morgan also contended that the BAA erred in determining that Kinder Morgan and the Cortez Pipeline Company were related parties for purposes of calculating the transportation deduction. There was sufficient evidence in the record that Kinder Morgan and Cortez Pipeline were partners and a majority of Cortez Pipeline’s income was earned from the owners of the Cortez Pipeline, one of which was Kinder Morgan. Accordingly, the BAA’s ruling regarding the transportation deduction was affirmed.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Partial Subordination Approach to Lien Priority Best Reflects Colorado Law

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Tomar Development, Inc. v. Friend on Thursday, June 4, 2015.

Lien—Subordination Agreement—Partial Subordination Approach.

The Friend family sold its ranch to Friend Ranch Investors Group (FRIG) to develop it into a resort-style golf course community. In 2010, FRIG conveyed the property to Mulligan, LLC, and at that time, the relevant order of priority was (1) Colorado Capital Bank’s (CCB) senior lien; (2) Tomar Development (Tomar); (3) the Damyanoviches; (4) the Friends; and (5) CCB’s junior lien. Bent Tree, Mulligan, and CCB then entered into a subordination agreement whereby CCB’s senior lien became subordinate to CCB’s junior lien. Neither Tomar, the Damyanoviches, nor the Friends was involved in or an intended beneficiary of the subordination agreement. CCB’s senior lien was never released. Bent Tree then foreclosed on CCB’s senior lien and, in November 2010, Bent Tree bought the property at a public trustee’s foreclosure sale for approximately $11,800. Tomar, the Friends, and the Damyanoviches filed claims, each of which sought declaratory judgments as to the priority of their interests, which were dismissed by the trial court under CRCP 12(b)(5).

On appeal, Tomar, the Friends, and the Damyanoviches argued that the trial court erred in applying the partial subordination approach to the subordination of liens. The partial subordination approach applies when the most senior lienholder (A) agrees to subordinate his interest to the most junior lienholder (C) without consulting the intermediary lienholders (B). Under this approach, when A subordinates to C, C becomes the most senior lienholder, but only to the extent of A’s original lien. Under this partial subordination approach, B is not affected by the agreement between A and C, to which it was not privy. Colorado adopts the partial subordination approach, and it was properly applied in this case. Accordingly, the trial court did not err in dismissing Tomar’s, the Damyanoviches’, and the Friends’ claims seeking a declaratory judgment that each of their interests was senior to all other interests.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Property Owner Can Incorporate HOA Without Consent of Other Owners

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in DeJean v. Grosz on Thursday, June 4, 2015.

Condominium—Declaration—Homeowners’ Association—Preliminary Injunction.

The DeJeans and Grosz each owned one unit in a two-unit condominium in Aspen. Before either the DeJeans or Grosz had purchased their units, Schiff, the original owner, had filed and recorded a declaration (Declaration) stating that the covenant runs with the land and that the condominium project called for the existence of a unit owners’ association (Association) to manage the common areas. In March 2013, Grosz incorporated the Association. When the DeJeans learned that the Association had been incorporated, they demanded that Grosz terminate it. The DeJeans thereafter brought this lawsuit. In issuing a preliminary injunction against Grosz, the trial court found that because no Association existed when the DeJeans purchased their unit, the DeJeans have a reasonable probability of success in contesting how the Association was created.

On appeal, Grosz argued that the trial court erred in granting the preliminary injunction because the DeJeans failed to demonstrate that they had a reasonable probability of success on the merits. Where the condominium declaration contemplates a homeowners’ association, and especially where the covenant runs with the land, a property owner can incorporate a homeowners’ association without further consent from the other unit owners. Therefore, the DeJeans had notice of the Association and consented to membership in it when they purchased their unit, regardless of when the Association was incorporated. Accordingly, the DeJeans did not have a reasonable probability of success on the merits of their claims, and the preliminary injunction was vacated.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Bond Condition Does Not Impermissibly Impair Defendant’s Right to Parent his Children

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Fallis on Thursday, June 4, 2015.

Bond Conditions—Right to Parent.

A Weld County grand jury indicted petitioner for second-degree murder of his wife. The trial court released petitioner on bond. One of the bond conditions was that petitioner remain in Colorado during the pendency of this criminal case. Petitioner filed a motion to reconsider the bond condition, which was denied.

On appeal, petitioner argued that the trial court transgressed on his presumption of innocence in setting the bond condition and unconstitutionally interfered with his right to parent his children, who reside in Indiana. The court did not treat petitioner as guilty of the charged offense; instead, the court properly considered the nature of the charged offense and the penalty that would be imposed if he was found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Further, the court did not limit petitioner’s right to parent his children. Any such restrictions arise from circumstances outside the trial court’s control: petitioner’s decision to move himself and his children to Indiana after his wife’s death, and the temporary decision of an Indiana court prohibiting the children from being removed from Indiana. Accordingly, the court did not abuse its discretion in imposing the bond condition. The petition for review of the bail order was dismissed.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 6/9/2015

On Tuesday, June 9, 2015, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued one published opinion and two unpublished opinions.

United States v. Biglow

Salazar v. Holder

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.